Whether you still haven't started Suits, or have yet had the chance to catch up to season six -- well, let's be honest, that's just plain unnacceptable. Fortunately, we have all the info you need to jump into USA Network's sexy, smart, and seriously funny legal drama -- and finally learn what Harvard, mahjong, can openers, mudding, and pretty much every famous movie quote ever have in common.
What’s It All About: Hot shot New York lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) takes on a brilliant young protege, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law despite never having actually attended law school. The two work big money cases and navigate the cutthroat world of corporate law while trying to keep a lid on the secret that could destroy them both.
Where To See It: The first four seasons of Suits are streaming on Amazon Prime, free with membership, and the complete fifth season is currently available on USANetwork.com and the USA Now app by logging in with your cable provider. You can also rent or purchase all five seasons of Suits on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, and Vudu.
How Long It Will Take: 76 Episodes at about 44 minutes apiece, or a little over two days. Sounds like a good weekend to us! Oh, what’s that? You need to sleep from time to time? That’s ok, it will only take you a week or two to enjoyably burn through all five seasons.
Why You’ll Love It: Suits may be billed as a legal drama but it nimbly hits multiple pleasure centers by adding a generous dash of buddy comedy (Mike and Harvey kicking ass, taking names and trading movie quotes), a heaping helping of soapy corporate intrigue (Backstabbing! Power grabs! Late night rooftop tete-a-tetes!), a few pinches of romance (there’s so much will they/won’t they that you may not be able to stand it -- in the best way), and seasoning it all with a liberal dose of lifestyle porn (the clothes! the cars! the luxe apartments!). Of course, the whole meal wouldn’t go down without the immensely talented cast. The fantastic Macht and Adams get top billing as Mike and Harvey, but Gina Torres, Sarah Rafferty, Rick Hoffman, and Meghan Markle all take turns stealing scenes (and viewers’ hearts) as their co-workers and confidants. And that’s to say nothing of the long list of familiar faces like Chi McBride, Margo Martindale, Wendell Pierce, Rachael Harris, Gary Cole, Neal McDonough and many, many more who stop by the firm to either help or hinder our favorite team of lawyers.
The Essential Episodes: Suits is so good and so much fun from top to bottom that we think you’d be crazy to pick only a few episodes (especially after the first season, when the show starts to move away from the case of the week format and starts to focus on more serialized storytelling). But if we simply must choose the best of the best, these are a good place to start:
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Right from the top, Suits feels fully formed (a rare feat for a television pilot) and it doesn’t take long to draw viewers in. And yes, obviously it would be silly to miss the episode that sets up the entire premise of the show, but if you skip the pilot you’ll also miss out on Harvey Specter’s masterful dismantling of a bullying client -- one of the great character intros of the modern TV era.
Season 1, Episode 7: “Play The Man”
Mike takes part in the firm’s annual mock trial but his photographic memory can’t help him navigate office politics, while Harvey faces off against his old flame Dana Scott (Abigail Spencer) in a merger negotiation. Seeing Mike get tripped up by the trial is good fun, and watching Rafferty steal all her scenes as Donna (especially her teary cross examination in mock court) is a hoot, but the fizzy interplay between Harvey and “Scotty” is the stuff of TV heaven. We also get to see that for all his Esquire sheen and “best closer in the city” bravado, Harvey’s relationship with women is complicated, a can of worms that will be explored more fully as the show progresses.
Season 2, Episode 3: “Meet The New Boss”
The second season sees a subtle shift from a process-oriented case-of-the-week approach to serialized storylines and a focus on inter-office gamesmanship. David Costibile gets ample opportunity to smile and scheme as Daniel Hardman, a newly-returned managing partner with plans of seizing back control of his firm. The best part of the episode, though, may be Louis Litt connecting with Sheila Sazs and teaching the associate pool a lesson about hard work. This is where Louis comes into his own as a character who can carry his own storyline.
Season 2, Episodes 7-10: “Sucker Punch”, “Rewind”, “Asterisk,” and “High Noon”
This four-episode run, featuring the culmination of Hardman’s power grab, represents one of the high points in the series. Highlights, in no particular order, are Donna and Louis strutting through the halls of the firm to the disco beats of "Disco Inferno," Harvey slugging it out in the boxing ring with his frequent nemesis Travis Tanner (Eric Close), Mike and Harvey toking up and getting the munchies, and a flashback to a time when Louis proudly wore braces in the office. Fun as those moments are, the true strength of these episodes lies in the more quietly devastating moments, like Louis’ brutal cross-examination of Donna during an in-house trial run, or a traumatic event that, without giving too much away, sends Mike into a tailspin, as well as a subtle exploration of how the team’s common goals are often undermined by their individual selfish impulses.
Season 2, Episode 16: “War”
Even if it hadn't improved an already great season by doubling down on the inter-firm maneuvering, even if it hadn't featured a deliciously droll performance from Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones’ Lord Varys) as Edward Darby, and even if it hadn't had Louis’ hilarious rivalry with his British counterpart, the persnickety Nigel Nesbitt (Adam Godley), this episode would still be a stone-cold classic for what happens in that copy room at the end. We’ve said all that we can say…
Season 3, Episode 4: “Conflict Of Interest”
With a new managing partner installed after a merger with a big British firm, Harvey and Jessica find themselves working at cross purposes during the lead-up to the murder trial of an oil company executive. The big news in this episode is that Donna is being chased by a suave new suitor, and their courtship is just delicious.
Season 3, Episodes 11-14: “Buried Secrets,” “Yesterday’s Gone,” “ Moot Point,” and “Heartburn”
Another great late-season run for Suits, these episodes pause to take emotional stock of the characters after the hustle of the big murder case. The episode where Louis deals with the fallout from a health scare is particularly poignant, but just as affecting is the slow realization that Harvey's romantic relationship may not be built to last.
Season 4, Episode 1: “One-Two-Three Go…”
After the big shake-ups at the end of season three, this episode quickly establishes the new normal and kicks the fourth season off in the Suitsiest way possible -- that is, nearly all our mainstays hopping into well-appointed beds with someone sexy or hopping out of gleaming cars in jealousy-inducing ensembles to a propulsive soundtrack. From there, we get to see Mike exploring a new career opportunity that will put him into direct conflict with Harvey, Jessica trying to balance her place as a powerful woman with the new love in her life, and the arrival of a figure from Rachel’s past who will put a kink in her blossoming romance. This season will go on to explore the emotional lives of the characters even more than seasons past.
Season 4, Episode 10: “This Is Rome”
After a run of episodes that threatened to tear the characters apart, “This Is Rome” serves as a final gut-punch by taking the character who had in many ways become the emotional heart of the show, Louis, and putting him through the ringer before essentially making him give in to all his worst impulses and break bad. Heavy on the drama, you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the final ten minutes.
Season 4, Episode 13: “Fork In The Road”
Another in the line of the flashback episodes that Suits trots out every season, this one also serves as a sort of soft reset towards status quo after Louis’ turn towards arch-villainy. Harvey tricks Louis and Mike into taking a road trip with him in order to force them to bury the hatchet. Things get testy before they get better, but we could watch a whole season of this threesome’s car ride banter.
Pretty much all of Season 5
There’s so much good stuff in this run of episodes that we almost don’t know where to begin, but we’ll try: Harvey going to a shrink to deal with his myriad issues, the appearance of Louis’ oft-mentioned sister, Esther (Amy Acker), the rise of a new player within the firm and the return of an old enemy, wedding bells for two characters and Mike’s secret finally catching up with him. Not to be missed.
Suits season six starts on Wednesday, July 13, at 9/8c. Count down the days to premiere with the official 2016 Louis Litt calendar. Download and print your own here.